Santa Fe New Mexican, NM.
Sunday, July 16, 2006.
From the New Mexico Governor's Commission on Disability.
See how you rate when it comes to communicating with people with disabilities. Score one point for each correct answer.
1. When should you pet a guide or service dog?
c) Sometimes, but only with the permission of the animal's owner.
2. When you meet someone with a disability:
a) Raise your voice so the person will be sure to hear you.
b) Talk with the person's companion rather than the person.
c) Ask about the person's disability.
d) None of the above.
3. When introduced to a person with a disability:
a) Offer to shake hands, even if the person has limited hand use.
b) Don't pat the person on the head or shoulder.
c) Identify yourself and others who may be with you if the person has a severe loss of vision.
d) All of the above.
4. Always assume someone with a disability needs help.
True or false?
5. When speaking with a person in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, you should place yourself at the person's eye level to facilitate conversation so you aren't a "pain in the neck."
True or false?
1. C. A guide dog or other service animal should never be petted or talked to without permission of its owner. These are highly trained working animals, not cute pets.
2. D. Use a normal tone of voice when extending a verbal welcome. If the person has a hearing impairment, look directly at the person and speak clearly, naturally and slowly to establish if the person can read lips. Shouting won't help. Always speak directly to the person, not to his or her companion, aide or sign-language interpreter. If people want you to know about their disability, they'll tell you, particularly if you're a child. Children have natural curiosity, and most people with disabilities are comfortable with their questions.
3. D. People with limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb can usually shake hands. If not, they'll tell you. Patting people on the head or shoulder is patronizing. If you want to get the attention of someone with a hearing impairment, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. It's polite to let people with visual impairment know who you are and who is with you. When you move away from the conversation, don't forget to tell the visually impaired person.
4. False. Just because someone has a disability, you shouldn't assume the person needs help. If the setting is accessible, people with disabilities can usually get around fine. They want to be treated as adults, so try not to be overly helpful. Do not offer to hand a cane or crutches unless the person asks you to do this. Offer help only if it appears needed then ask advice on how to best assist the person. People with disabilities are the best judge on what they can or cannot do, so don't make any decisions for them about participating in any activity.
5. True. This makes sense, doesn't it? Just avoid patting the person on the head or touching his/her wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device. People with disabilities consider their equipment part of their personal space.
Score: 1-2 points. Time to brush up on your disability etiquette. The 2000 U.S. Census notes that 18 percent of the population of all ages and both sexes has one or more disabilities. About 8 percent of Santa Feans 5-20 years old, 18 percent of Santa Feans 21-64 years old and nearly 38 percent of Santa Feans older than 65 years have one or more disabilities.
Score: 3-4 points. Not bad. You probably aren't offending people with disabilities on a regular basis.
Score: 5 points:. Nice job. You've done your homework, and you know that people with disabilities are people.
Sources: New Mexico Governor's Commission on Disability and the 2000 U.S Census
End of article.
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